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Web3 with Gary Vee: Why Care, and What’s Next?

Takeaways from our conversation with Gary at the 2022 Lerer Hippeau Summit

At our 2022 Lerer Hippeau Summit, we had the chance to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VeeFriends, an NFT project designed around meaningful intellectual property and a one-of-a-kind community. Gary is a true serial entrepreneur, and has been a friend of Lerer Hippeau for some time. Before he launched VeeFriends, we had the chance to partner with Gary and co-founder Ben Leventhal on Resy, the restaurant reservation platform, which he sold to American Express. VeeFriends brings together Gary’s passion for mentorship and inspiring good in others with his expertise in technology and innovation.

As always, the conversation was wide-ranging. Gary touched on Web3, the reasons why we should care about its evolution, and what’s coming next, social media marketing, and how TikTok’s emphasis on interest has captivated audiences and platforms alike, causing an industry-wide shift.

Here are some key takeaways from our conversation:

  • The consumer blockchain is one of the most significant technology shifts of our time. The basic concept behind blockchain is revolutionary. A scaled, decentralized ledger that is resistant to manipulation is a technology that has the ability to reinvent transactions in the same way the internet reinvented communication. It allows good actors to provide unprecedented value to whoever holds an asset at any given time, within seconds. For the content libraries of the world, the issuers of assets — like Disney, DC Comics, Warner, etc. — this is utterly new. They can monetize their IP in perpetuity, something that was previously impossible. We can’t see the future from here, but it’s clear the railroad tracks have been laid for new business models that were not possible with the internet alone.
  • We are shifting to an “interest” graph away from the “social” graph. It used to be the case that in order to be present on social media a company would need to spend time and energy building out a list of followers before seeing any results. But the merit of a creative asset is not what drives distribution. With platforms like TikTok, a company just getting started can have a first successful post, in some cases with viral reach. What’s causing the shift? Algorithms are beginning to reorient themselves away from followers to the substance of posts, i.e., what makes them interesting from a consumer perspective. Companies need to abandon a math-based mentality, focused on customer acquisition costs and lifetime value, mixed in with creative elements, to adopt a creative-first approach focused on consumer affirmation, followed by analytics and insights.
  • Social media platforms are undergoing a process of TikTokification. Six months ago, TikTok was a necessary platform for any company’s social media strategy. That’s no longer a hard and fast rule. Just about every platform has caught on and is revamping their approach to distribution in order to compete. Meta’s Reels product, across Facebook and Instagram, has become a leader in the space. Snapchat is building out its Spotlight feature, and YouTube’s short-form video experience is attracting a significant audience.
  • Each platform operates differently. Though many of these platforms appear visually similar, each one operates on a unique algorithm, and their creative approaches vary too. Companies need to be tuned into these nuances and understand how platforms can be leveraged appropriately. For instance, Snapchat’s Spotlight functions differently from LinkedIn’s Carousel and Facebook’s Reels. Any given piece of content can succeed on some platforms, and fail on others. (More reading on this topic available via Bustle and Later.)
  • It’s time to get creative. With the industry-wide shift toward interest-based algorithms, the creative becomes the key variable. Direct-to-consumer brands, or retailers hoping to draw foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations, need to produce high volumes of creative content that are relevant to many different segments. The approach isn’t “spray and pray.” It’s about staying in front of the consumer, marketing every day to your audience, as if it were print, radio, or TV, with thoughtful pieces. Once the creative is organically posted, the algorithm takes over. From there, insights are generated, which allow you to refurbish your content accordingly. A brand shouldn’t live and die on social media. It’s important to use the insights generated from social to develop longer-form creative and advertising assets across other media channels to help further build brand awareness.
  • There’s never a bad time to build a good business. The next several years will be difficult, but less savvy players will begin to drop out. Now is the right time for a good idea to gain market share.

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Lerer Hippeau is an early-stage venture capital fund founded and operated in New York City. We invest in good people with great ideas who redefine categories — and create new ones entirely.

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Lerer Hippeau

Lerer Hippeau is the most active early-stage venture capital fund in New York.